Q: As (some) cinema goers seem to be a bit jaded by 3D, I love how you cleverly incorporated it into the movie as almost an integral part of the plot. IF we get sequels, do you envisage those to be in 3D and if so, have you thought of another way to exploit the medium?
A: Hello, Pete. I really regret not putting your name on a block. Next time, if there is one...
I like 3D - which is deeply unfashionable in film circles - and think that there are several of Anthony Dodd Mantle's shots that are objectively better in stereo than mono. But... it's such a fucking drag making 3D on a budget. Every VFX shot effectively has to be done twice. There are two times the chances of a camera rig breaking down on set. It hates fast camera moves. It hates objects breaking the frame in the wrong way. And so on.
But in the end, once we had found the right look for the slo mo drug (at the very, very closing stages of post) I was really pleased that we had persevered and made it as a stereoscopic movie.
By the way, for the record, the amount of bullshit spoken about 3D is unreal, particularly with reference to shooting in 3D versus post-conversion. We shot in 3D, but often one lens was bust, so we post-converted. No one can tell the difference unless they are real experts. And often the converted shot looks better, because you have more flexibility in the stereo. The only reason converted films got a bad reputation is because the work was rushed on some of the notable examples. But that's like saying CG is crap, on the basis of a dodgy effects movie.
Q: Are you up to date with your Dredd epics and can you call a favourite? With your zombie experience could you see Judgement Day being the sequel? If not I'll take anything that isn't 'Crusade'.
A: I'm not up to date with Dredd epics. I reached a point of Dredd saturation during the edit, and stopped reading. I'm still in that state, to be honest, but that might change once the film is out, and can stop obsessing about what we didn't do.
Favourite epic: Origins.
And no to Judgement Day. I'm done with zombies. I don't have any ideas left to steal from George Romero.
Q: Would like to ask what you found the most challenging aspect of adapting the character of Judge Dredd for the big screen and how you decided on the tone of the film.
A: Did we meet at that London comic con thing, after the Q&A? If so, hi. If not, hi anyway.
Honestly, adapting Dredd as a character was not hard. He is so well defined by the comics. There was no research. I wasn't looking to reinvent him. And when I got stuff wrong, Wagner was at hand to put it right.
As for the tone, I did the same thing I always do, since I first started writing. Which is basically to approach genre as if it is real. For me, Dredd is in a continuum with 28 Days Later, not least because they were both filmed by the same guy.
Q: I was wondering, perhaps a little oddly... While conceiving of the fabric of the film’s content and what to combine and concentrate upon for the best dramatic impact and storytelling platform to put the character of Judge Dredd on... Were there any particular aspects of the setting or character that you were most content to leave out, at least with this opening salvo?
A: I tried not to leave anything out about Dredd's character, except I suppose that I imagined him a younger Dredd, pre the Cursed Earth walk (though that's a loose imagining, and doesn't stand up to much cross examination). In terms of the city and the world, I was very content to avoid the overt comedy and overt satire - because I'm crap at it. I'm sure it can be done, but I'm definitely the wrong person for the job. I'm more comfortable with dry comedy and implicit satire.
Q: If a sequel is made will you be shooting some of it in the UK and can we all be extras?
A: It's hard to shoot a medium-budget film like this in the UK because of the cost. But if it is, you can definitely all be extras.
Q: Cut out this Dredd film nonsense. When are we going to get a Judge Burdis miniseries?
A: The boards are already a Judge Burdis mini series. Or at least a Doomlord-style photo series.
Q: I'm just wondering, is Alex a comics fan in general? We know he's a fan of Judge Dredd, but is there anything else he's picking up? Anything that maybe ignites the old spark that says 'I wouldn't mind talking a crack at filming this'?
A: I'm a big comics fan. My dad worked as a cartoonist, so I grew up around comics. He was really keen on Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Elder (if those names mean anything to you). I think for that reason, I'm a big fan of Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton and Dave Sheridan, who were the direct descendants of Kurtzman and Elder. Likewise their modern descendants, like Daniel Clowes, Alison Bechdel, and Chris Ware. I was never very into the American superhero comics. But I liked Jack Kirby drawings, and Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run, and Watchmen (obviously).
I think one of the reasons I liked 2000AD so much was that - like the Shelton/Crumb/Zap underground comic scene - it was subversive.
Q: If you get the chance in the future how would you tackle the dark judges transfer from comic to screen?
A: I think I'd try to make them really scary. Not play them for laughs. Just make them totally malevolent and lethal. And use practical effects where possible, except for Fire, which would be an on-set nightmare.
Q: I'd like to know how you felt when you heard that the intial Peach Trees script had leaked online? Was it a big worry, or could you view it as something positive?
A: It was really bad news. Can cause huge problems. One is that the film can get negatively pre-judged, which gives everyone an uphill battle from then on.
On the plus side, Internet chatter generated by the leaked script did illustrate to financiers that there was a level of interest in a Dredd film that many of them were not expecting. But given a choice, I would definitely have preferred that the script was not leaked.
Question one : Out of the following non-2000ad British comic stories, which would you most like to see adapted for the silver screen?
B) The Thirteenth Floor
Question two : Did you add the 's' onto the end of Peach Tree on purpose?
A: Of those three choices, I'll go with Doomlord. But if I could choose my own, Axel Pressbutton.
And no, I just misremembered Peach Trees. And I also misspelled O'Neill's name on his block, which I'm just completely confused and mortified about.
Q: How much input did you have on the film version of Tesseract?
A: Zero. Likewise The Beach. Lesson learned, after it happened twice.
Q: I've loved seeing all the background Easter Eggs that seem to have been put in JUST for the hardcore fans to find... block names, graffitti, bits in the news footage. I imagine when the blu-ray eventually comes out there will be people scanning it frame by frame to make sure they dont miss any
Was it an overall conscious decision to put stuff like this in or is it just something the design team have run with?
A: Mark Digby's brilliant design team put in several Easter Eggs, though often they were aimed at crew. Using images and names of friends and people on the crew, for example. They also were clever about referencing the world of Mega City One, in terms of adverts, products, shop signs, etc. But in a way, these are production design texture as much as Easter Eggs.
Most of the Easter Eggs I put in were names of forum members and 2000AD creatives. I also put in a couple of friends who are Dredd fans, and a few poker players I admire, and (the best hidden) the gamer-tags of some people I play with on X-Box live.
Q: How did you feel about the decision to put the film before a crowd at SDCC12 - knowing that a harsh reaction from them would have basically killed the film before it was even released ?
If/ when there is a sequel, what will you change in your approach to it from your experience of the first ?
A: I was very worried, for exactly the reason you mention. But... a point comes when a film comes out and... must be judged. I say that with the same emotionally charged voice as Stallone when he reveals that he judged Rico. So, I hope you're moved.
My tonal approach to a sequel would be the same. But I'd definitely want to open out the story much more, within Mega City One, but also into the Cursed Earth. And I would want to continue to exploring the character of Dredd.
But by the way, just so it has been said, I actually think that maybe the best way forward for Dredd is television. American TV has completely rewritten the rule book where filmed drama is concerned. Game Of Thrones/The Wire/Breaking Bad... An equivalent version of Dredd would be fucking great. Imagine the epics...
When the announcement came for the Dredd panel to be at LFCC on both days, were you apprehensive, as this was the first true face to face meeting with the fans. Especially after the Lawmaster picture was leaked and also the strange comments about the helmet being too large!
After the Saturday panel did you then realise that the Dredd fans and general action fans were with you and did this put you in a more confident mood for the rest of the weekend and also for that tiny event over in America. I think it's called SDCC!
Is the cut of the film that we are about to see 'THE CUT' or will we see a Special Edition with even more gore in the future?
Do you know of many scenes that have been cut and if so will we see these (this goes part in part with the previous question)
Seeing as everyone else has asked most of the questions I was going to ask I shall ask a few about the DVD.
Will you be doing a commentary and if so, with who?
Is there a gag reel?
Will the DVD have an ability to go to all the little references to artists, writers, fans, etc.. I think Spaced did something with their series collection. Otherwise we may be sat glued to the screen for ever!
A: Hello, John.
Yeah, Dredd was years of work, and presenting it to the public was scary. About the helmet and bike - I always felt confident about the bike because I knew the difference between the leaked shot and what we had filmed. But the helmet was trickier. In truth, from some angles, it does look bloody enormous. There are complex issues with the construction of the helmet which don't manifest in a 2D drawing. It's like you'd want to build two helmets - one for straight on, and one for profile. But three quarter angle, it always worked pretty well.
In terms of current confidence, I feel better than I did, but in no way is the movie out of the woods. It has some huge tests ahead of it.
Yes, the cut you will see is the cut.
Very few scenes, violent or otherwise, were entirely lost. For people who know film making, the editor Mark Eckersley's assembly cut was 97 minutes. That carries with it many implications, which I'm going to guess that Joe Soap would understand, one of which is that there wasn't much luxury about dropping material. So Mark, Allon Reich (producer) and I spent a lot of time finding ways to use everything we had. Flopping shots, playing shots backwards, using shots twice by reframing, using sections of scenes to make new Frankenstein scenes. Every trick we could think of.
I think it highly unlikely I will do a DVD commentary, for many reasons. This q&a is as close as I'll get. If I did, I'd do it with Anthony Dodd Mantle, then sit back and let him do all the talking. And dancing... which leads me to your next question...
... because there is a gag reel. It's mainly of Anthony dancing, and it's brilliant.
I have no idea what will happen with the DVD extras, except that if I have any say in the matter I'd love it to include some Judge Minty material. But ultimately, it has nothing to do with me. It's a distributor issue.
Q: Would you like to buy a Yamaha APX5 acoustic guitar off me? Comes with case, but it's been gigged a bit, to put it mildly. I'm saving up for one of those new little fender Excelsior amps, but I'm a bit skint til October.
A: The APX5? If only it was the APX3.2, with reverse transformer blades, and nickel flex-retainers. I'd buy that off you like a shot, because then I'd have the set.
Q: How much did avoiding the shadow of the Stallone film influence the direction you took for Dredd?
If you'd had the budget of that film, would you have liked to have gone further future in set design/vehicles, or do you think the backlot nature of those types of sets is too restrictive even with a large budget.
A: Hi Steve. The Stallone movie didn't consciously affect me at all. The two films never felt like they were arguing over the same patch of ground. Honestly, it was rarely mentioned during development or production, and we never all sat down and watched it, or anything like that.
Yes to vehicles, to a point. No to set design. Sets of exterior streets are inherently problematic and usually betray themselves, even on huge budgets. One of the first creative decisions that Andrew, Allon and I made was that whenever we could, we would shoot in real locations, and add to reality with CG, rather than rely on CG set extensions.
Q: Alex - Dredd seems very stripped down and 'realistic' (for want of a better word) compared to the world of the comics - was this a conscious choice, and if so, how do you feel about handling more overtly fantastical or science fictional elements in possible sequels? You have mentioned presenting the Dark Judges as an 'existential' threat - can you elaborate on that at all?
Essentially - is there an attempt to ape Christopher Nolan's Batman films - to remain true to the spirit of the comics while rationalising the universe to an extent?
Also - is Judge 'Lex' a little bit of sneaky wish-fullment on your part?
A: My 'style', for want of a better word, is part stripped down realism, and part trippy and hallucinatory. That's been the case since my first published story, The Beach. So yes, it's totally conscious. And also the trippy stuff allows for some quite extreme imagery, which I think could absolutely accommodate characters like the Dark Judges.
The existential side to the Dark Judges is that they don't see a point to life. If my film-trilogy daydream was to play out, I would completely rewrite my original script for the Dark Judges - because it was junk - and start again. And I'd make them deeply fucking weird and spooky, and sort of philosophical. And if everyone hates that idea, relax, because it'll never happen.
Definitely not trying to ape Nolan. No disrespect to him in the slightest. Just not the case. To me, by the way, the exemplar of your description (staying true to a comic while rationalising the universe) is Alan Moore.
Lex is actually (part of) the name of one of my X-Box live friends. But he gets called Lex online.
Q: You described the need to earn $50 million (plus) at the US box office before a sequel could be guaranteed as a "simple financial equation". Are there really no more important variables? If the film did slightly less than $50 million in the US, but took many multiples of the production budget internationally, would that still not balance the equation?
How much creative input do DNA have in how the film is marketed in TV, press and on social media? Are you (collectively) coordinating and approving things like posters, taglines, trailers, and the timing of their release; or are the distributors in individual territories coming up with strategies for their own markets?
Can you say anything about the decision to feature the number '3' and the letter 'D' so prominently in the film's promotional material? This question was brought to you by Sesame Street and was a production of the Childrens' Television Workshop.
How integral was the decision to shoot the film in 3D in determining the kind of film you wanted to make? Were you certain the film would use that process when you were formulating your story, and did it influence the development of the concept of slo-mo? Were you thinking of how the film would function visually (in terms of these techniques) at the script stage?
Can you talk a little about the thematic importance of slo-mo to the film? What does it communicate to the viewer about the nature of the city and the lives of its citizens?
I've heard directors like PT Anderson and Chris Nolan talk about screening old films before and during production to give cast and crew an idea of the general tone of the film and the dynamics of specific scenes. If you'd done the same thing for Dredd, what films would you have screened and why?
Karl Urban has spoken of compiling a scrap book of images and text from the comics as inspiration and as reference material for his work on the character. If you had done the same, what stories, lines and images would have guided your creation of the screenplay and the decisions you made on set?
A: Yes, you're right, there are variables. But it would still be very hard to make a sequel if the film didn't perform in the US. Dredd has different distributors in different territories. If no American distributors are interested in the property, you have a big hole in your budget. By the way, that $50M is not a totally reliable figure. The variables have variables...
DNA can express an opinion on marketing, etc, but all that stuff is fundamentally in the hands of the distributor. They bought it, so they sell it. And they know their job. I tend to stay completely out of it.